Monday, December 13, 2010

Biting My Tongue ... Off

I have a parenting confession to make:

My name is Morgan and I am a nag.

Whew!  That feels good to get off my chest! :)

I have noticed in the past couple of weeks that I have a tendency to remind my kids (repeatedly) of something that I have asked them to do.  I'm sure I've been doing it for ages, but my eyes have been opened in just the past week how naggy I truly am.  If that isn's a word ... it should be.

Here's an example of my nagginess (another word that should be...):

Aaron needs to wrap up his screen time.  I give him a, "Hey, Buddy ... five minutes" warning.  Then I give him the, "Okay ... time to turn off" update.  Then I give him the, "Hey ... I said, it's time to turn off" grumble followed by the, "Aaron ... off.  Now." complaint.  Finally I give him the, "Aaron, turn it off and be done" grouchy face.  It's exhausting.

Combine that with my nagging for Norah to hang her backpack up, my nagging for Ashley to clear her crafts from the kitchen table and my nagging for Lydia to clean up the blocks and you have a lot of nagging.  Ewww.  And whew!

A few days ago we were headed out the door to somewhere.  I asked the kids to get their shoes on, get their coats and get in the van.  Then I asked each of them again ... several times.  Then I got grumpy and made growling noises.  Eventually, we were all in the van ... but we were missing one pair of shoes and two coats.  More growling noises.  By the time we headed out of the garage, we were all properly shod and coated, but we were late and I was still grumbly.  Naggy and crabby ... those don't mesh well with the holiday season.

So this morning I announced to the kids that I was giving myself an early Christmas present.  I was only going to make my request once:  Turn off the TV, Hang up the backpack, clear the table, tidy up the blocks.  Once.  Then I would give a consequence ... probably a job from the Great Learning Box.  You should have seen the look on their faces:  big eyes and heads nodding up and down.  I hope it sinks in, but in all honesty, it's my fault.

Somewhere along the way here, I got a bit lazy and allowed my kiddos to get away with not obeying the first time.  Somewhere along the way, I wanted to cut my kids a break and allow them a few chances to obey.  Somewhere along the way I thought I was being a nicer mom by being a bit more lax.  But somewhere along the way I was transformed into a nag!  And a tired nag, at that!

I know that first-time obedience is a habit and I know that my kids can figure it out.  But I also know that habits are hard to break and so we might be in for a bumpy road.  The kids are going to have to have their A-game ready ... or be ready to get this house spic-and-span!

And it's going to be bumpy for me, too, because it's a habit I have to break as well.  I have to toughen up a bit and stick with my "One Request" policy.  The worst thing I could do is let them slide after I have called them on this issue of obedience ... that is like waving a white flag and announcing, "I'm a doormat ... walk all over me!"

So ... what's my plan?

  • Make my requests clear and concise.  No confusion about what is expected.
  • Make eye contact when making my request.  No doubt that I have been heard.
  • Request confirmation.  A "Yes, Mom." would fit nicely here.
  • Keep my mouth shut.  No "I said..." and No "Did you hear me?"
  • Pray for patience.  Dear Jesus, Set a guard over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips ... and don't let me bite my tongue off today. (Psalm 141:3 ... not the tongue part) 
  • Get my job box freshened up.  I'm getting my house cleaned this week!
  • Praise them when they do it!  Yahoo!  Wasn't that so much better?!?
  • Turn in my "I'm a Nag" badge.  Nagginess, be gone!
  • Use my energy elsewhere.  You know I've got better things to do with my time ... it's Christmas!  

Well ... at least that is my plan.  It looks so nice there, all typed up and orderly.  But I know better.  We are in for a doozy couple of days.  No doubt there will be a few tears, mine and theirs.  No doubt my kids will grumble a bit.  No doubt I'll be weak a time or two.  But we are going to break these habits, by golly! 

I am looking forward to using my energy for fun things.  
I am looking forward to using my words for saying loving things.  
I am looking forward us all piling into the van with our shoes, coats, smiling faces and happy hearts... 

... and only saying it once!


P.S.  I wrote this on Friday, actually, and so we have been using the "One Request/One Response" policy for a few days.  And it's been going well ... I have gotten the basement cleaned, the family room dusted, the house vacuumed, the door-knobs wiped down, the window sills wiped down and laundry put away ... among other things!  And, I think the kids are starting to get the idea.  This morning they were ready and out the door with no problems!  (Except for Liddy pulling hair and trying to bite someone ... but that's a whole other issue!)

I have found it helpful here at the beginning to preface my requests with, "This is my one request ..." and that seems to get them up and moving rather quickly. A little reminder for them of this habit of "Quick & Snappy Obedience" that we are focusing on.

I hope to keep up with this discipline because I have liked my children a whole lot more the last couple of days ... and I think that they have liked a less grumbly, growly Mommy, too. :) 

1 comment:

  1. I have been working on this too, it's tough when my throat hurts... but SO important! Thanks for the encouragement!


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